Tomorrow's the Palm Beach Premiere of our latest film: Violins in Wartime.
Interview with the director of the film ( and my mom) Yael Katzir:
And here's great coverage in the Sun Sentinel in Florida- one of the more popular newspapers in Florida part of the Tribune newspaper family:
Sun Sentinal Article about the Palm Beach Intl. Film Festival
Festival to include Jewish, Israeli films
April 11, 2012|By Jan Engoren, Special to the JournalThe 17th Annual Palm Beach International Film Festival returns April 12 and runs through the 19th showcasing local, national and international films from countries around the world including Romania, Thailand, Argentina, The Netherlands and Israel.
This year there are a variety of Jewish and Israeli films touching on all aspects of Jewish life.
Randi Emerman, the director of the PBIFF says, "These Israeli and Jewish films touch a part of our tradition and our lives. Each one tells a different story — about personal triumphs and loss, heroes and villains, courage and determination, humor and sadness and Jewish life from all angles."
"It's important for us to keep these memories and remembrances in our daily lives. We need to remember our past and think about our future. Film is a great medium to explore different parts of our culture, history and identity in an entertaining way."
Of special interest is the world premier and cinema verité documentary, "Violins in Wartime," a film by Israeli filmmaker Yael Katzir.
Katzir, a director of Beit Berl Academic College and professor of film and history at the Art School wrote and directed the films "Praying in Her Own Voice (2007)," "Shivah for Mother (2004)" and "Company Jasmine (2001)."
Her latest film, "Violins in Wartime" focuses on violinmaker Amnon Weinstein, a man obsessed with collecting violins, especially those that survived the Holocaust, and a group of master musicians and their students who refuse to let the second Lebanon war in 2006 interfere with their love of music and their desire to learn.
Katzir recounts the special relationship between Jewish history and violins. Violins were integral to klezmer music, music of the shtetl in Eastern Europe, and many top violinists such as Itzhak Perlman, Isaac Stern, Yehudi Menuhin and Ida Haendel were or are Jewish.
Weinstein and his wife, Assaela (Assi), are worried about their son in the army, and along with the artists, try to put their focus on their music and keep the drumbeat of war in the background.
"Making this film has changed my identity as a person," says Katzir. "I realize the power and impact of music on our psyche and the connection the Jewish violin has to our reality in Israel. We all carry a lot of trauma in our hearts and music provides the strength to carry on."
In the film Katzir recounts, "During the siege of Leningrad, Shostakovich wrote his 7th Symphony. The musicians of the city were starving to death like everyone else, but with their last ounce of strength they played their music. A one of the German high commanders said, "It's impossible to conquer a people who perform music like this during wartime."
Katzir draws an analogy between then and events during the Lebanon War. "Now," she says, "As long as we continue to play the violin, no one can break us."
Katzir's son, Dan, a filmmaker in his own right ("Out for love...be back shortly") produced the film.
Legendary violinst Ida Haendel (who is 80+ years old and lives in Miami), appears in the film along with Shlomo Mintz and will be the guest of honor at the screening. The film includes footage where she alone plays Handel's Prayer in a memorial ceremony for the Pope during his visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Haendel, who was born in Chelm, Poland, picked up her father's violin at the age of three and a half, began playing and hasn't stopped since.
"This is who I am," she says. Where did that innate instinct and talent come from? "Maybe it was supernatural," she says. "Life is mysterious."
The Boston Globe describes Haendel's playing thusly: "She plays with such simplicity, directness and emotional force that it tears your heart out...."
Another mother/son collaboration is the film "Tiger Eyes," based on the 1981 Judy Blume young adult novel about a young girl trying to cope with the murder of her father. The film stars Willa Holland as the young girl, Davey, Tatanka Means and Amy Jo Johnson and is directed by Lawrence Blume, Judy's son. Although Blume has sold more than 70 million copies of her books, the film is Blume's first screenplay.
Both Blumes will attend the screening.
Other films with a Jewish or Israeli theme include:
"Unmasked Judeophobia" by filmmaker Gloria Z. Greenfield, which examines rising trends of anti-Semitism. Greenfield interviews Alan Dershowitz, Elie Wiesel, Senator Joe Lieberman and Natan Sharansky, among others. On the film's website Greenfield states, "We made this film as a proactive defense of Israel."
"Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story," a documentary film by Jonathan Gruber and Ari Daniel Pinchot retelling the story of Operation Entebbe. Yoni, Benjamin's (Netanyahu) older brother, was killed in the rescue attempt.
The world premiere of "Happy You're Alive," a film by Hilla Medalia recounting the story of soldiers who return from the battlefield fighting to stay alive.
It was an amazing premiere and Ida Haendel played to the audience that attended in a super emotional evening all the audience will take with them forever.
Here's Ida on the violin after the moving screening:
Ida Haendel playing after the film premiere at the Palm Beach Intl. Film Festival